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UK service sector expands steadily in March, points to strong first-quarter growth: Markit/CIPS

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's dominant services sector expanded steadily in March, pointing to solid economic growth in the first quarter, even though the rate of expansion was the slowest since last June and hiring eased, a survey showed on Thursday. The Markit/CIPS services purchasing managers' index (PMI) edged down to 57.6 in March from 58.2 in February, below economists' consensus forecast in a Reuters poll for a reading of 58.1.

U.S. municipal bond funds post $212.2 million in outflows: Lipper

(Reuters) - U.S. municipal bond funds reported $212.2 million of net outflows in the week ended March 26, compared with $107.3 million in inflows in the previous week, according to data released by Lipper on Thursday. The four-week moving average remained positive at $54.6 million, said Lipper, a unit of Thomson Reuters. High-yield muni bond funds reported inflows of $100.8 million, down from $151.9 million in the previous week. (U.S. municipal bond team)

Baxter plans to spin off biotech business in 2015

(Reuters) - Baxter International Inc said on Thursday that it would spin off its biotechnology operations into a publicly traded company by the middle of next year and focus on its core medical technology business, sending its shares up nearly 5 percent. The move, which is similar to Abbott Laboratories' spinoff of AbbVie Inc at the beginning of 2013, is part of a trend among healthcare companies to divest businesses that are not part of their primary operations.

With cheap money available, Japan Inc. seen to follow Suntory's M&A path

By Ritsuko Ando TOKYO (Reuters) - More Japanese companies are expected to follow Suntory Beverage & Food Ltd <2587.T> in acquiring overseas companies to gain a foothold in faster-growing markets even as global economic uncertainty and a weaker yen temper deal-making. Japan's slow domestic growth and cash-heavy balance sheets, together with declining birth rates and an ageing society, have encouraged outbound acquisitions by companies in a broad range of sectors from consumer and retail to finance and electronics.

U.S. municipal bond funds post $107.3 million in inflows: Lipper

(Reuters) - U.S. municipal bond funds reported $107.3 million of net inflows in the week ended March 19, compared with $223.8 million in inflows in the previous week, according to data released by Lipper on Thursday. The four-week moving average remained positive at $169.4 million, said Lipper, a unit of Thomson Reuters. High-yield muni bond funds reported inflows of $151.9 million, down from $199.4 million in the previous week. (U.S. municipal bond team)

U.S. municipal bond funds post $107.3 million in inflows: Lipper

(Reuters) - U.S. municipal bond funds reported $107.3 million of net inflows in the week ended March 19, compared with $223.8 million in inflows in the previous week, according to data released by Lipper on Thursday. The four-week moving average remained positive at $169.4 million, said Lipper, a unit of Thomson Reuters. High-yield muni bond funds reported inflows of $151.9 million, down from $199.4 million in the previous week. (U.S. municipal bond team)

U.S. municipal bond funds post $223.8 million in inflows: Lipper

(Reuters) - U.S. municipal bond funds reported $223.8 million of net inflows in the week ended March 12, compared with $99.5 million in inflows in the previous week, according to data released by Lipper on Thursday. The four-week moving average remained positive at $222.6 million, said Lipper, a unit of Thomson Reuters. High-yield muni bond funds reported inflows of $199.4 million, up from $158.4 million in the previous week. (U.S. municipal bond team)

Exclusive: Pimco's Gross declares El-Erian is 'trying to undermine me'

By Jennifer Ablan (Reuters) - Bill Gross, the co-founder and co-chief investment officer of Pacific Investment Management Co, has accused departing CEO Mohamed El-Erian of seeking to "undermine" him by talking to The Wall Street Journal about deepening tensions between the two executives who have been jointly running the world's largest bond house.

U.S. retailers' results drive up discretionary profit estimates

By Caroline Valetkevitch NEW YORK (Reuters) - Strong U.S. retailer results this week have bumped up discretionary earnings estimates, which could give some relief to worries about pricey valuations for the sector. The fourth-quarter profit growth estimate for S&P 500 consumer discretionaries jumped from 6.7 percent on Monday to 8.7 percent Friday, with results from Home Depot <HD.N>, Macy's <M.N> and Priceline.com <PCLN.O> among the strongest influences, Thomson Reuters data showed.

U.S. retailers' results drive up discretionary profit estimates

By Caroline Valetkevitch NEW YORK (Reuters) - Strong U.S. retailer results this week have bumped up discretionary earnings estimates, which could give some relief to worries about pricey valuations for the sector. The fourth-quarter profit growth estimate for S&P 500 consumer discretionaries jumped from 6.7 percent on Monday to 8.7 percent Friday, with results from Home Depot <HD.N>, Macy's <M.N> and Priceline.com <PCLN.O> among the strongest influences, Thomson Reuters data showed.
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